As those of you who follow @nosycrow on Twitter may know, Kate and Adrian spent last week at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Kate thinks that last year was one in which publishers were allowed to say that trading was rough (many publishers are pretty good at spin), but people seemed genuinely more upbeat about the fair this year… and (really: no spin) Nosy Crow’s fair couldn’t have gone better.
Kate started her publishing career as a rights girl, so a Book Fair is duck (back) to water in a happy way for her. She hugely enjoys selling to people from different countries, in different languages. You learn about cultural differences in everything from preferences in artwork styles to ways of celebrating Christmas (or, of course, not celebrating in Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Israel). You are selling to editors, who really care about stories and illustration, and who are used to commissioning themselves. And there is, of course, a great buzz when you close the deal.
Adrian was also selling. This was his 35th Frankfurt, many of them as what the hard-working rights people refer to as a “floating suit” (a senior executive who has very few appointments and talks to other senior executives he bumps into in the halls). But this was his first Frankfurt selling children’s books (so a bit of an old dog, new tricks scenario – though he’s a pretty nifty salesman).
Preparing for the fair is a very hands-on process for Nosy Crow as a start-up. We sweated over the stand design done by the brilliant Floron at Floron Design and went straight from the airport to Frankfurt’s IKEA for our flatpack stand furniture… which we spent all of the next day assembling. We also bought two huge bags of Dime bars which was our only food between breakfast and supper.
We then had three-and-a-half days of 140 meetings with foreign publishers – many of them pre-booked, but a number of people requesting appointments when they saw our lovely and very busy stand.
We had so much more to show at Frankfurt than Bologna, and, honestly, we were nervous. We needn’t have been: we had really strong interest in everything. That’s not to say that every single publisher loved every single thing, but we had deals and/or interest to follow up for every single project.
So the books were a huge success (we could have sold Axel Scheffler’s Pip and Posy books twenty times over in each language) and people were really fairly slack-jawed when they saw prototypes of our apps.
Our hard work – and the hard work of our authors and illustrators – in the lead up to the fair really paid off.
Kate and Adrian agreed it was the best – and much the most fun – Frankfurt they’d ever had.